Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2016) 15, 509 - 515

Research article
The Supplementation of Branched-Chain Amino Acids, Arginine, and Citrulline Improves Endurance Exercise Performance in Two Consecutive Days
I-Shiung Cheng1, Yi-Wen Wang1, I-Fan Chen2, Gi-Sheng Hsu3, Chun-Fang Hsueh2, Chen-Kang Chang4, 
Author Information
1 Department of Physical Education, National Taichung University of Education, Taichung, Taiwan
2 Graduate Institute of Sport Coaching Science, Chinese Culture University, Taipei, Taiwan
3 Department of Sport Performance, National Taiwan University of Sport, Taichung, Taiwan
4 Sport Science Research Center, National Taiwan University of Sport, Taichung, Taiwan

Chen-Kang Chang
✉ PhD Sport Science Research Center, National Taiwan University of Sport, 16, Sec 1, Shuan-Shih Rd, Taichung 404, Taiwan
Publish Date
Received: 07-01-2016
Accepted: 31-05-2016
Published (online): 05-08-2016
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The central nervous system plays a crucial role in fatigue during endurance exercise. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) could reduce cerebral serotonin synthesis by competing with its precursor tryptophan for crossing the blood brain barrier. Arginine and citrulline could prevent excess hyperammonemia accompanied by BCAA supplementation. This study investigated the combination of BCAA, arginine, and citrulline on endurance performance in two consecutive days. Seven male and three female endurance runners ingested 0.17 g·kg-1 BCAA, 0.05 g·kg-1 arginine and 0.05 g·kg-1 citrulline (AA trial) or placebo (PL trial) in a randomized cross-over design. Each trial contained a 5000 m time trial on the first day, and a 10000 m time trial on the second day. The AA trial had significantly better performance in 5000 m (AA: 1065.7 ± 33.9 s; PL: 1100.5 ± 40.4 s) and 10000 m (AA: 2292.0 ± 211.3 s; PL: 2375.6 ± 244.2 s). The two trials reported similar ratings of perceived exertion. After exercise, the AA trial had significantly lower tryptophan/BCAA ratio, similar NH3, and significantly higher urea concentrations. In conclusion, the supplementation could enhance time-trial performance in two consecutive days in endurance runners, possibly through the inhibition of cerebral serotonin synthesis by BCAA and the prevention of excess hyperammonemia by increased urea genesis.

Key words: Central fatigue, time trial, neurotransmitter, hyperammonemia, tryptophan

           Key Points
  • The combined supplementation of BCAA, arginine, and citrulline could enhance performance in 5000 m and 10000 m in 2 consecutive days in competitive runners. The supplementation may be helpful in multi-day competitions.
  • The supplemented BCAA may alleviate central fatigue, allowing the subjects to run faster at the same degree of perceived exertion.
  • The hyperammonemia that is usually accompanied with BCAA supplementation may be prevented by arginine and citrulline through increased urea genesis.
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